The Transatlantic Future

In view of this year’s US presidential elections, German government advisors have diagnosed major tensions in relations between Berlin and Washington, which have arisen because of the USA’s grave economic difficulties demanding inevitable drastic austerity measures. It is also uncertain how long the dollar will be able to maintain its exceptional global status. According to an expert of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAB), it had already become apparent at the last G-20 Summit that “the enormous power of the US” had “noticeably diminished” because of its economy’s chronic weaknesses. The US government will therefore continue to apply pressure on Germany and the EU to increase the importation of US products and insist on a much stronger participation in military interventions. Because of its harder line toward Beijing, Washington can also be expected to formally or informally seek to expand NATO’s range to Asia – to encircle China.

A Lost Generation

Washington’s chronic economic problems are the cause for the current dislocation in its relations to Berlin. Josef Braml, a scientific advisor to the USA/Transatlantic Relations Program at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), writes in a recently published analysis that, since 2008, the financial and economic crisis has hit the USA very hard. The unemployment has risen sharply. Because of its insufficient training in “often dilapidated educational institutions,” the younger generation, is incapable “of sufficiently contributing to the GNP.” Apprehension is spreading “that the youth of today could belong to a ‘lost generation’.” A “small elite” takes a “disproportionately large slice of the income pie,” while “very many must be satisfied with very little.” Of all the OECD member countries, only Mexico and Turkey have a wider social gap. Approximately 46 million US-Americans, particularly those in the Afro-American and Hispanic communities are living below the poverty line. “One-third of the Hispanic homes suffer under a lack of food,” reports the DGAP expert Braml. This desolate social situation is also worsening the country’s economic perspective. “If it is true that two-thirds of the US economy is generated by consumer demand, in other words by private consumption, then this social imbalance is very bad for economic recovery.”[1]

Full article: The Transatlantic Future (German Foreign Policy)

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